On Wednesday, there were at least 1,893 American deaths from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University — the highest daily death toll the country has seen since early May.
Already, more than 241,700 people have died. And with the virus running unabated within US communities, that number will likely only keep climbing.
And as grim as things may seem, new reports highlight the pandemic is only ramping up as the country approaches a critical holiday season.
Reports warn of ‘most diffuse spread experienced to date’
And a separate forecast from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Policy Lab projects conditions will worsen in the West Coast, the Northeast and the mid-Atlantic states over the next several weeks.
Hospitalizations, ICU admissions and ventilator usage are rising in every single state, the lab said.
“In every Midwestern state, COVID-19 patients are occupying more than 25% of ICU beds,” it reported.
The findings echo warnings by multiple leading health officials who have urged Americans to lean into safety measures like face masks and social distancing to help curb the spread of the virus and avoid a devastating winter season.
A critical holiday ahead
But experts worry their warnings may fall on deaf ears as some Americans prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday — where large family and friends’ gatherings could help drive infection numbers even higher.
“For those that do, outdoor events are safer than indoors, and conscientious spacing of older vulnerable individuals from the rest of the family will be important,” it said. “But even more important is a commitment to quarantine before visiting family.”
The holidays also mean many college students will likely return home to spend Thanksgiving with family and could unknowingly bring the virus back with them. College campuses in all 50 states have reported Covid-19 cases since the pandemic’s start and institutions across the US continue to implement new measures amid a resurgence of infections.
Safety measures aren’t going away any time soon
“While we hope we’ll get more good news about vaccines, it’s going to take time to scale up production to get them out to all the countries and then get enough people vaccinated so life goes back to pre-Covid days,” World Health Organization Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said during a social media live Q&A.
And even when a vaccine arrives, people may need booster shots in the future, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday.
“I don’t think it’s going to be one and done, as they say,” Fauci told Financial Times correspondent Hannah Kuchler.
But a vaccine will likely suppress the spread of the virus below pandemic and epidemic levels.
“Then you’ve got to be careful because as new vulnerable people enter the cohort, globally, they’re going to be susceptible,” Fauci said. “And as people who were immune lose their immunity, they may become re- susceptible.”
Although the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines being developed is promising, it’s too soon to tell how long immunity against the virus will last.
“Traditionally, if you look back at common cold coronaviruses and the experience we have, it is not the kind of virus that usually gives lifelong immunity,” Fauci added.
CNN’s Betsy Klein, Lauren Mascarenhas and Mirna Alsharif contributed to this report.